People Read Footnotes! Another Twist in the Family Tree

Last month when I wrote about the end (for now) of my Goldschmidt family research, I included this footnote on my blog post:

I would be remiss in my duties as a family historian if I didn’t mention that in addition to their four sons Meyer, Seligmann, Lehmann, and Simon, whom I’ve studied in depth, my four-times great-grandparents Jacob Falcke Goldschmidt and Eva Seligmann had a daughter Jette Goldschmidt. She married David Gruenewald of Poembsen, Germany, and they had two children. One died as an infant or was stillborn, but the other, Jacob Gruenewald, was born in 1820, lived to adulthood, married Sarah Nethe, and had fourteen children born between 1847 and 1872. All of this information, however, is based purely on a secondary source, a report in the Alex Bernstein Collection at the Leo Baeck Institute. I’ve tried to locate more information about Jette’s descendants, but so far have not succeeded. If the day comes when I can, I will add Jette’s family to the blog.

I admit that I never expected anyone to read the footnote. After all, it was a footnote, and I wrote it just to be forthcoming and thorough in reporting an area of the Goldschmidt family story that I had not included on my blog.

But much to my surprise and delight, my cousin Ruth read the footnote and emailed me to say she thought we might be related through the Gruenewald family of Poembsen. Ruth is my fourth cousin through my Seligmann family line. Her great-great-grandfather Hieronymous Seligmann was the brother of my great-great-grandfather Bernard Seligman, the subject of my latest novel. We are both descended from Moritz Seligmann and Babette Schoenfeld. As far as I knew, Ruth was not related to me through my Goldschmidt family.

So when I received Ruth’s email, I wanted to know whether we were also related through the Gruenewalds of Poembsen. Ruth had a family tree prepared by memory by her grandfather Simon Gruenewald near the end of his life. I had only the work compiled by Alex Bernstein. Ruth sent me a copy of her grandfather’s tree, and I studied it and compared it to the information I had from Alex Bernstein’s book. I then sent it to David Baron, who had first told me about Alex Bernstein’s book. And he also studied and compared the two trees.

 

 

There were a few inconsistencies in the two trees, including most importantly that Ruth’s tree did not list Jette Goldschmidt as David Gruenewald’s first wife. I have written to a contact in Oberlistingen, hoping that there will be a marriage record for Jette and David. Alternatively we hope that there may be records of Jette’s death or of the birth or marriage of her son Jacob that will help us verify that Jette Goldschmidt was married to David Gruenewald and was the mother of Jacob Gruenewald.

Because we assume that Alex Bernstein relied on actual records whereas Ruth knew that her grandfather relied only on his memory. we think for the most part that the Bernstein tree is more reliable than Ruth’s grandfather’s tree.  And it wouldn’t be surprising if Ruth’s grandfather was confused, given that there are at least two Davids, two Simons, two Jacobs, and several Minnas on the Gruenewald tree.

So what did we conclude regarding the relationship between Ruth and Jette Goldschmidt, assuming that David Gruenewald was married to my four-times great-aunt Jette?

There is no genetic connection, only one by marriage. Here is an abbreviated family report for the Gruenewalds of Poembsen.

As you can see, Levi Jehuda had a son Moses. Moses had two sons—David Gruenewald I, who married (we believe) Jette Goldschmidt, and Ruth’s great-great-grandfather Simon Gruenewald I.

But it gets more complicated.  Simon Gruenewald I had a son David Gruenewald II. David Gruenewald II married his first cousin, Minna Gruenewald, the daughter of David Gruenewald I with his second wife, Klara Karenmeyer. Minna Gruenewald was Ruth’s great-grandmother and also the half-sister of my relative Jacob Gruenewald I, David Gruenewald I and Jette Goldschmidt’s son.

Here are some charts, though I am not sure they really help. The first chart shows how Ruth’s great-grandparents were first cousins, Minna the daughter of David Gruenewald I, her husband David Gruenewald II the son of Simon Gruenewald I.

The second chart shows how Ruth is the step-great-great-granddauaghter of Jette Goldschmidt, my three-times great-aunt.

Thus, it appears that my four-times great-aunt Jette Goldschmidt was Ruth’s step-great-great-grandmother. Crazy, isn’t it?

And then David Baron discovered yet another connection. He wrote: “I found another connection with your families. In our Katz/Katzenstein trees we have Bertha Pes Katz daughter of Bonum Katz and Zerline Nussbaum of Jesberg who married Feist Joseph LInz. Pes and Feist Joseph had Betty LInz and Berthold Linz. Betty LInz married Albert Gruenwald and Berthold married Albert’s sister Rebecca Paula Gruenwald, Both Albert and Betty were the children of Hirsch Gruenwald and his wife Mina Gruenwald (born 1834) According to a family tree I found on My Heritage at https://www.myheritage.com/site-family-tree-550062631/fastre – Mina was the daughter of Simon Grunewald and Malchen Rose.”

I admit that I am still working on sorting through that one!

So Ruth is related to me genetically through our shared Seligmann line and also related to me by marriage, albeit distantly, through my Goldschmidt/Gruenewald line and through my Katzenstein/Katz line.

And who knows where else our family lines may have crossed.

In the meantime, Ruth’s grandfather’s tree has provided  clues as to what happened to the descendants of Jette Goldschmidt and David Gruenewald I. I have just connected with one of those descendants and hope to be able to fill out the family tree so that my four-times greataunt Jette Goldschmidt Gruenewald will no longer be relegated to just a footnote.

 

Santa Fe Love Song: A Family History Novel

I am delighted to announce that my newest novel, Santa Fe Love Song, has been published and is available in both paperback and e-book format on Amazon here. Like my first novel, Pacific Street, Santa Fe Love Song was inspired by the lives of real people—in this case, my great-great-grandparents Bernard Seligman and Frances Nusbaum—and informed by my family history research. But as with my first book, Santa Fe Love Song is first and foremost a work of fiction.

Bernard Seligman, my great-great-grandfather

Frances Nusbaum Seligman, my great-great-grandmother

It is a double love story—a story of Bernard’s passion for his newly adopted home in New Mexico and of his deep love for a young woman in Philadelphia. How will he resolve the conflict between those two loves? That is the heart of the novel.

But this is also an adventure story because the first part of the book tells of Bernard’s arrival from Gau-Algesheim, Germany, his adjustment to life in Philadelphia, and then his challenging and exciting trip on the Santa Fe Trail when he moves out west to work with his brother Sigmund. On that trip Bernard faces many different obstacles and learns to love the American landscape. He transforms from a German Jewish immigrant into an American pioneer and businessman.

Upper left, Bernard Seligman with other merchants and Indians on the Santa Fe Trail

As with Pacific Street, I wrote Santa Fe Love Song with my children and grandchildren in mind. This time I also decided to get my grandsons involved in the project. Nate, 10, and Remy, 6, became my illustrators. As I told them stories about Bernard and Frances, they created drawings that told those stories visually. I am ever so grateful to my two wonderful grandsons for their work, and I hope that someday their grandchildren will cherish these books and the illustrations and honor the memories of their ancestors Bernard and Frances.

I hope that you also will find Santa Fe Love Song a worthwhile and enjoyable read. If you do, please leave a review on Amazon. Thank you! I appreciate all your support.

Was Moritz Oppenheimer Forced by the Nazis to Divorce His Wife and Declare Bankruptcy?

I have written several posts about my cousin, Moritz Oppenheimer, the nephew of my great-great-grandfather Bernard Seligman. Moritz was an extremely successful business owner and also racehorse breeder and owner who ended up committing suicide as a result of the persecution he experienced by the Nazis.

Emma Neuhoff and Moritz James Oppenheimer
photo courtesy of Angelika Oppenheimer

My cousin Wolfgang Seligmann recently discovered additional information about Moritz and his family, including an application filed in 1966 in Wiesbaden by Moritz Oppenheimer’s widow Emma Neuhoff, seeking compensation for the harm done to her husband and the financial losses suffered.

Emma Neuhoff Oppenheimer 1966 application for reparations

In reviewing those documents (with invaluable help from Wolfgang), I focused on two questions that had been raised by readers who commented on my earlier posts about Moritz Oppenheimer. First, were Moritz and his non-Jewish wife Emma forced to divorce by the Nazis in 1936, or did they choose to divorce? Second, was Moritz forced into bankruptcy by the Nazis in 1933, or were his businesses already failing before the Nazis came to power?

The first question is addressed by the court in its opinion approving the settlement between Emma and the government. The court recognized that Emma and Moritz had only divorced to protect Emma and their two children, who were not Jewish.

Court notes on divorce of Emma and Moritz Oppenheimer in decision approving settlement of Oppenheimer 1966 reparations claim

I used DeepL to translate this language and for the other translations in this post:

The marriage of the applicant with the persecuted person was divorced by judgment of the regional court Giessen 2 R 51/1935 of June 25, 1936 through his fault. In the judgment of the regional court Giessen 4 R 585/50 dated 6 October 1950 it was determined that the divorce judgment was incorrect because the divorce had actually taken place in order to protect the non-Jewish wife and children from persecution — but its legal validity remained unaffected.

With respect to Emma’s application for compensation, the court concluded that even if Emma was no longer legally married to Moritz at the time of his death and thus not technically his widow, she was nevertheless entitled to pursue her claim for compensation for the harm done to her husband and her family.

The applicant is entitled to claim. It can be left open whether she is the widow of the deceased, … or this is treated as a blameless divorced wife.

Thus, Emma and Moritz chose to divorce to protect Emma and their two children. It was a decision based on love, not a lack of it.  Although the Nazis did not require the Oppenheimers to divorce, the circumstances the Nazis created compelled the couple to divorce.

The question regarding the bankruptcy is more complicated. Emma contended that Moritz was forced into bankruptcy by the Nazis when he was arrested in September, 1933, the first of many arrests that eventually drove him to suicide in 1941, as has been described in earlier posts. Emma wrote in the third paragraph of her statement in support of her application for compensation in 1966:

Emma Neuhoff Oppenheimer statement filed in support of her 1966 application for reparations

In the prison in Hammelgasse, my husband was forced to file for bankruptcy on his property. In my opinion, this was pure Nazi harassment. There was never a reason for bankruptcy. The bankruptcy was actually carried out afterwards.

But a man named August Hartmann filed an accusation against Moritz with the Nazi party in which he claimed that Moritz had defrauded a family from Frankfurt out of almost one and a half million Reich Marks;  these fraud claims were never fully litigated because Moritz died before that could happen. Hartmann also claimed that the businesses owned by Moritz were heavily in debt and that Moritz was a flight risk.

Statement of August Hartmann regarding claims against Moritz Oppenheimer

Here is the DeepL translation of Hartmann’s statement:

The well-known industrialist and racing stable owner Consul Moritz Oppenheimer has lived for many years only on credit fraud. In the years 1931 and 1932 he swindled a very respectable Frankfurt family out of the round sum of one and three-quarter million Reichsmark in cash under false pretences. This case is all the more blatant because this amount of money came from assets confiscated during the war in America. That was only released at the end of 1929 and taken to Germany by the family, out of national interest in making this large amount of money available to the ailing German economy.  Despite the fact that this fraudulently damaged creditor has known for half a year now how the finances of Consul Oppenheimer are, he has now refrained from taking radical steps which were in his personal interest, in order not to make more than 250 German workers unemployed. But because of the great expenses of Mr. Consul O., for example maintenance of the Erlenhof Stud Farm, which requires a monthly subsidy of about 15,000, financial conditions have deteriorated to such an extent that bankruptcy is only a question of time, the strong suspicion arises that this Jew wants to run off to a foreign country where he in all probability has stashed a considerable fortune.

It was this letter from August Hartmann that led to the arrest of Moritz Oppenheimer in September 1933 and then to his alleged forced bankruptcy. Thus, Moritz may have been pushed into bankruptcy proceedings, but if Hartmann’s letter is true, Moritz was already in serious financial trouble.

Moritz’s son Walter Oppenheimer, in his affidavit in 1966, admitted that his father had incurred a great deal of debt by 1929, but argued that he would have been able to overcome these financial reversals but for the Nazis. He wrote in part (and translated as best I could, with help from DeepL and Google Translate):

Portion of the letter Walter Oppenheimer filed in support of 1966 reparations claim

If my father’s business got into financial difficulties in the years after 1929, it was because the racing stable required unexpectedly large sums. My father was the founder of the stud and racing stable Erlenhof, which he had also created out of nothing and brought to world fame. The most successful German racehorses were bred at Erlenhof. Erlenhof was also the first German stud farm which was able to export breeding horses to the United States, and to which, for example, the stud farm of the English king sent mares.

The economic crisis at that time hit the paper trade particularly hard, so that the whole industry was in dire straits. But without the advent of National Socialism, my father could have certainly overcome these difficulties perfectly. The President of the Chamber of Industry and Commerce, Honorary Professor Karl Heinrich August Luhr, himself an economic expert of his time, admitted that without the advent of National Socialism, my father could have overcome all the financial difficulties of the time far beyond the borders of Germany, thanks to his organizational gifts and, above all, thanks to his enormous expertise. … So that if a so-called standstill agreement was maintained, the companies could have recovered quickly from the good economic developments that had already begun and had brought large profits. Especially the last months from the middle of 1932 onwards showed this very clearly in the business development of my father’s factories. Professor Luhr also told Mr. Allecke, who was an accountant at the time, very clearly that it was only for political reasons that it became impossible to put things back on a level playing field.

Where the truth lies is impossible to determine. It certainly appears that Moritz was having serious financial troubles before 1933, but were they serious enough to require bankruptcy? Would the business have recovered if he had not been arrested and persecuted by the Nazis? If he had been given more time, could he have turned around his companies’ financial situation?

In the end, the 1966 court approved a settlement that provided Emma with some compensation for the loss of her husband and the suffering he endured as well as for her own economic losses. It was less than what she wanted, but it did recognize that despite the divorce, she was entitled to compensation, implicitly recognizing that they had not freely chosen to divorce. But the settlement did not compensate her for the failure of her husband’s businesses.

Almost twenty years later in 1984, the descendants of Moritz and Emma Oppenheimer filed another claim, this time with the District President in Darmstadt, seeking compensation for the economic damage sustained to the business of Moritz Oppenheimer, according to another set of documents that Wolfgang discovered in the Wiesbaden archives. As Wolfgang explained to me, the Germany government adopted new laws over time that updated the process for obtaining reparations by those who suffered harm because of the Nazis. This new claim was presented under a statute called Bundesentschadeugungsgesetz-Schlussgesetz or Federal Compensation Act-Final Act.

1984 decision on the application for reparations by the heirs of Moritz and Emma Oppenheimer

As with the claim filed back in 1966, this claim for compensation for the financial losses suffered by Moritz’s business was rejected. The district president found that Moritz would not have been able to sell the stables or racehorses to cover his business losses, given the economic conditions of that period and the extent of his business liabiltiies.  Thus, he concluded that the economic damage was not the result of Nazi persecution. In addition, the district president concluded that Moritz’s medical condition disabled him from seeking other employment, not the Nazis, so there would be no compensation for lost income from such potential employment.

Of course, Moritz’s medical condition could very well have been and probably was caused by or at least exacerbated by his arrest and persecution. And no one can know with absolute certainty that he would not have been able to rescue his business but for that arrest and persecution. But at least two different decision-making bodies concluded otherwise and rejected the family’s claims.

Four Years of Learning German

Just about four years ago in the summer of 2016, I decided to learn German. It’s been an interesting and mostly enjoyable challenge. First, I used the app Duolingo for almost a year. I learned a fair amount of German vocabulary. I was disciplined and practiced every day. It was fun.

But then I tried to read some simple texts written in German, and I realized Duolingo was fine for vocabulary building, but it wasn’t enough if I really want to read, write, and speak German.  We were going to Germany in the spring of 2017 and I wanted to be able to speak to the people in their own language, so I bought a few German textbooks to learn how to conjugate verbs and some other basic grammar.

But that also wasn’t enough. That became glaringly obvious when I tried to speak German on our trip. I couldn’t string together a grammatically correct sentence, and often I would get blank stares when I tried to ask a simple question in a German store or restaurant. And if someone answered me in German? I had no idea what they were saying. So in the fall of 2017, I signed up for a German class offered by a local adult education program.

That course was good for grammar. Lots of grammar. Lots and lots of grammar. Rules, rules, rules. But no conversation and no opportunities to read texts or ask questions. So I formed a German conversation group with people from the class. That’s been lots of fun, but I remain the worst German speaker in the group. My reading has improved, my writing is coming along (with help from Google Translate), but it still is very hard for me to speak or understand spoken German. Mark Twain was right. Learning German is not for the faint of heart.

Mark Twain By Mathew Brady [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Why am I writing about this now, you may wonder?

Well, I’ve had reason recently to reminisce about why I started learning German. Why did I want to learn German? Of course, it was related to genealogy. My paternal roots in Germany are deep and wide. Knowing German would therefore be helpful. But to be honest, most of what I need to know for genealogy purposes can be reduced to some very basic terms: geboren (born), heiratet (married), gestorben (died). Really, you don’t need to know much more than that to read German vital records for basic information. And even knowing those terms won’t help much unless you can also read German script. Which I can’t.

No, it wasn’t a desire to read German vital records or even longer letters or texts that motivated me to learn German. It was rather a particular book that I very much wanted to read: Die Alte und Die Neu Welt, written by my cousin Mathilde Gross Mayer in 1951, as I discussed here.

Mathilde was born in Bingen, Germany, in April 1869. Mathilde’s grandmother Martha Seligmann and my three-time great-grandfather Moritz Seligmann were sister and brother, so we were second cousins, three times removed, both being direct descendants of Jacob Seligmann and Martha Mayer. Mathilde left Germany in 1937 to escape from Nazi persecution when she was almost 68 years old and a grandmother; she lived over thirty years in the United States after leaving Germany, dying in September, 1969, when she was a hundred years old.  I was fascinated by her life and wanted to read her book. So I started learning German.

But despite studying for four years and having a fairly decent basic German vocabulary, every time I picked up Mathilde’s book, I got frustrated. I still had to look up so many words that I could not just read this book. It was exhausting and too time consuming. Using Google Translate to translate one letter is one thing, but a whole book? So I gave up.

And then? Then my cousin Elizabeth found me this spring. Elizabeth is Mathilde Mayer’s great-granddaughter. She found my blog and contacted me. We exchanged a number of emails, finding many common interests and places in our lives as well as our shared family roots. And in the course of those emails Elizabeth shared with me that she had an ENGLISH version of Mathilde’s book in pdf format. And that she would send it to me. Which she did.

So one day a couple of weeks ago I sat at my computer and read Mathilde’s book in English. And I am so glad that I did rather than ruining it by trying to read it in German. It is just a wonderfully touching book—full of colorful portraits of many of my Seligmann cousins and warm and loving anecdotes about Mathilde’s life growing up in Bingen and then raising a family in Bingen. She shares the tragedies and challenges her family suffered as well as many of their joys and successes. I never would have been able to get the feel for her personality if I’d suffered through reading her book in German.

Sure, if I were fluent in German, that would have been even better—to read it as she wrote it. But to butcher it by reading it all chopped up would have been a terrible mistake. Elizabeth has asked me not to share the book on the blog, and so, of course, I am respecting her wishes. But I am so grateful that she shared the English version with me. Mathilde’s story will now always be with me.

So do I regret four years of struggling to learn German? Not one bit! I will continue studying it as best I can, and maybe someday I will actually be able to read Mathilde’s story in her native tongue.

 

 

How The Nazis Destroyed My Cousin Moritz Oppenheimer

Last time I shared the documents my cousin Wolfgang Seligmann found at the Wiesbaden archives about our mutual cousin Martha Oppenheimer Florsheimer. Today I want to share the documents Wolfgang found about Martha’s brother Moritz James Oppenheimer. Martha and Moritz were my great-grandmother Eva Seligman Cohen’s first cousins; they were the children of Pauline Seligmann, the sister of my great-great-grandfather Bernard Seligman.

As I’ve previously written, Moritz Oppenheimer was born on June 10, 1879, in Butzbach, Germany. Sometime before 1902, Moritz married Emma Katherina Neuhoff, who was not Jewish. Moritz and Emma had two children: Paula (1902) and Walter (1904). Moritz owned a paper factory in Frankfurt before the war as well as a large and very successful horse stud farm where thoroughbred horses were raised and sold. As his granddaughter Angelika reported to me, Moritz was a member of the board of directors of several companies throughout Germany. He was a very successful and wealthy man.

Emma Neuhoff and Moritz James Oppenheimer
photo courtesy of Angelika Oppenheimer

Moritz was arrested in the autumn of 1933. His marriage to Emma was dissolved because mixed marriages were not legal under the Nazi regime. Then his assets including his horse farm were confiscated and put into the hands of an administrator, who sold them at far below their market value. According to his son Walter, Moritz had been in good health up to this time, but these actions caused him to become quite ill. After being visited by Gestapo, he reportedly took his own life on May 4, 1941.

Wolfgang found three documents that illustrate just how desperate Moritz’s situation was. I am deeply grateful to Cathy Meder-Dempsey of the blog, Opening Doors in Brick Walls, who translated all three of these documents.

The first is a letter written by Moritz in early 1941 regarding his taxes for the year 1940.

Letter by Moritz James Oppenheimer 1941

Transcribing and translating this letter presented some real challenges because, as you can see, the first several letters of the first word on the left side of the letter were not visible, but somehow Cathy was able to make sense of it all.

Here is her transcription and her translation of the letter:

[…] 10.6.1879 in Butzbach (Hessen)

[…]kenkarte H 0240/39

An das Finanzamt Wiesbaden

Im Jahre 1933 wurde über mein Vermögen das Konkurs

[verfahren] eröffnet (Frankfurt a. Main)

[Ich] besitze weder irgend welches Vermögen noch Wertgegen-

[stande], noch Möbel, Wäsche, etc.

Im Jahre 1934 wurde ich in Folge schwerer Erkrankung,

[…Er]weiterung und Verlagerung, Wasserbildung, Angina pektoris

[…auf]störungen, Kopfbeschwerden etc. nach Bad-Nanheim

[…] Dort war ich bis vergangenes Jahr in ärztlicher

behandlung und Aufsicht.

[…] schwerer Gelenkrheumatismus hinzutrat, kam ich

[ein art]ztliche Verordnung nach Wiesbaden zur Kur.

[Einko]mmen aus irgend welchen Möglichkeiten habe ich

[nicht]. Ich wohne möbliert.

[…]welche Neuanschaffungen habe nicht seit 1933 in Folge

meiner Mittellosigkeit nicht gemacht.

[Meine]Lebensunterhalt sowie Arzt, Apotheke, Zimmer und Kur

hatte ich aus Unterstützungen von ?200 Mk (monatlich)

[nur] von Verwandten gegeben werden.

[Diese] Zuwendungen stammen aus bereits versteuerten

[…]gen, Einkünfte meiner Verwandten.

Nach wie vor bin ich schwer erkrankt

[Meine] Ehe was Mischehe, Frau Arierin. Meine Kinder sind

[…]ft, konfirmiert und gelten nicht als Juden.

[…] ich eine andere Steuerklärung abgeben müssen,

[…] um Zusendung eines Formulares.

Moritz Israel Oppenheimer

Weisbaden

Pagenstecherstrasse 4 (?? Marx)

Zur Abgabe einer (Einkommen) Eink. Erklarung

fur 1940 aufgefordert.

Translation:

To the tax office in Wiesbaden

In 1933, bankruptcy was declared on my assets (Frankfurt a. Main). I have neither assets nor other things of value, furniture, laundry, etc. In 1934, as a result of serious illness, (enlargement and relocation – ??), water retention, angina pectoris, (other) disorders, headache etc. I was sent to Bad-Nanheim. Until last year I was there under medical treatment and supervision. As severe rheumatoid arthritis set in, I received medical orders to take a cure in Wiesbaden. I don’t have any income possibilities and live in a furnished place. No new acquisitions have been made since 1933 as I am penniless. My livelihood as well as doctor, pharmacy, room and spa expenses have been supported with [?] 200 Mk (monthly) from my relatives. This support came from already taxed income of my relatives. I am still seriously ill.

My marriage was a mixed marriage, my wife was Aryan. My children are ____, confirmed and are not considered Jews. [I assume that the word that we cannot see was Mischling.]

I have to file another tax return, and request a form be sent.

Signature and address

Notation in pencil: He was asked to submit a declaration of income for the year 1940.

Cathy thought he was writing to get the correct tax form for someone in his financial position.

Although I had read his son Walter’s description of Moritz’s financial and medical condition, reading this letter written by Moritz himself was just heartbreaking. Here was a man who had found incredible success in business brought down to being very sick and penniless.

The second document I received from Wolfgang was a letter written by Walter Oppenheimer, Moritz’s son.

Letter by Walter Oppenheimer 1941

Cathy translated the typed section, written by Walter, as follows:

In an immediate polite reply to your letter of the 15th of this month that I received only today, I inform you that my father died on May 4th, 1941. Who the legal heirs are now I am not able to tell you as the two children, my sister and I, refused the inheritance in a publicly certified declaration before the local court.

Heil Hitler!

Walter Georg Oppenheimer

I was very disturbed to see that Walter had used “Heil Hitler” in this letter, but Cathy explained that that was to be expected in a letter to officials during Hitler’s reign. Nevertheless, it made the hair on my arms stand to see a relative of mine use that expression.

I wondered why Walter and his sister Paula would have refused the inheritance, and Cathy suggested that it was a means of avoiding taking on their father’s debts since there were apparently no assets to inherit.

The handwritten notes on the bottom of the letter appear to have been made by some official commenting on the status of Moritz’s inheritance, as transcribed and translated by Cathy:

Anfrage beim Amtsgericht Frankfurt am Main

wer Nachlassverwalter ist, und

wer die gesetzlichen Erben sind,

nachdem die Kinder ausgeschlagen

haben.

Translation:

Inquiry to the district court Frankfurt am Main

who is administrator, and who are the legal heirs, after the children refused inheritance.

 

An das Amtsgericht ffm (Frankfurt am Main)

Der fruher dort wohnhaft gewesene Moritz Israel Oppenheimer

geb. am 10.6.1879 ist hier am 4.5.41 verstorben.

Der Sohn des selbend Dr. Walter Georg Oppenheimer ffm. Schumannstr. 47 wohnhaft, hat mitgeteilt daß seine Schwester und er ? haben.

Ich bitte nur ____ von 2 zu 4 Wochen.

Translation

To the district court Frankfurt am Main

Moritz Israel Oppenheimer, who previously lived there, born on June 10, 1879 died here on May 4, 1941. The son of the same, Dr. Walter Georg Oppenheimer, a resident of Frankfurt am Main, Schumannstrasse 47, announced that his sister and he (symbols? probably mean disclaimed inheritance). I only ask ____ from 2 to 4 weeks.

Finally, the third document Wolfgang found in the Wiesbaden archives about Moritz is this handwritten page of notes about Moritz’s “income” for the first few months of 1941 before his death:

Oppenheimer ist am 4.5.41 gestorben.

Eink. 41 wurde geschätzt und wie folgt errechnet: freiwillige zuwandungen seines Sohnes 1940 = 4060 Rm : 12 = 338

von 1.1 – 30.4.41 je 338 Rm = 1352 Rm

                                       4x

./. Sondereingaben 4 x 15   =       60                                                1292

                                                   -60         1432 Rm

angaben des Nachlasspflegers Spring:  Bl. 22

__                                    

Translation

Oppenheimer died on 4.5.41. Income for 1941 was estimated and calculated as follows: voluntary contributions of his son 1940 = 4060 Rm : 12 = 338 per monthfrom 1.1 – 30.4.41 338 Rm = 1352 Rm

                                    4x

./. Special income 4 x 15           – 60

                                                 1292

                                                    -60      1432 Rm 

information from the estate administrator Spring: Bl. 22

I’m not really sure what to make of all the numbers or the value in today’s money. I also have no idea what were the practical consequences of these calculations. Did Moritz (or his estate) owe taxes based on the money he was getting from his son?

What I think I can safely infer from these last two documents is that even after seizing all of the assets of Moritz Oppenheimer and driving him into bankruptcy, poor health, and ultimately suicide, the German government was still looking for some way to collect more money from his family.

Thank you again to Cathy Meder-Dempsey for her hard work in transcribing and translating these difficult to read documents. They add insights into the awful suffering of my cousin Moritz Oppenheimer.

Moritz Oppenheimer

UPDATE: A few readers asked me what I know about Emma Neuhoff-Oppenheimer’s life after Moritz died in 1941. I asked Angelika, Emma’s granddaughter, and she sent me this article:

Emma Neuhoff article-page-001

Most of it is about her life as a horseback rider, but the last part of the article addresses her life during and after the Nazi era. I will translate just that section:

“Ms. Emma never lost her dignity and discipline. Even in the bitter years of the ghost, when the beloved man fell victim to the Nazi regime, when her life became dark, often lonely. A courage deeply rooted in her and the quiet cheerfulness accompanied her to the age that she now enjoys with good reading with the two children and children-in-law, the two grandchildren, and many loyal friends.”

Emma Neuhoff-Oppenheimer died on February 2, 1968, at the age of 86, three years after this article was written. Angelika also told me that her grandmother owned a shop in Frankfurt and played the piano.

 

Seligmann Updates: Martha Oppenheimer Florsheimer

Turning for a bit from the Goldschmidt family, I need to discuss some updates involving the Seligmann family. Some of this information came from my cousin Wolfgang, some from Aaron Knappstein.  In this post I will look at some documents that Wolfgang located about Martha Oppenheimer Florsheimer, and then in the next post some relating to her brother Moritz Oppenheimer.

Martha and Moritz were the children of Pauline Seligmann and Maier Oppenheimer. Pauline was the sister of my great-great-grandfather Bernard Seligman and Wolfgang’s great-grandfather August Seligmann. So Martha and Moritz were my first cousins, three times removed, or the first cousins of my great-grandmother Eva Seligman Cohen. I’ve written about them both before.

Martha married Heinrich Florsheimer on September 18, 1902, in Butzbach, Germany. They had two children, Gertrud and Paul. Martha and Heinrich were divorced on April 12, 1913. Martha was sent to the concentration camp at Theriesenstadt on September 2, 1942, and was released from there on July 8, 1945. She returned to Wiesbaden, where she’d been living before the Holocaust, only to learn that both of her children had been murdered by the Nazis, Gertrud at Sobibor and Paul at Majdanek.

The earliest of the new documents that Wolfgang located at the archives in Wiesbaden about Martha was dated March 7, 1940, and appears to be a form Martha submitted to report her assets and expenses. She appears to have reported no assets, and under expenses she reported 78.50 Reich Marks a month (I’m not sure what the 65 refers to) for rent, heat, gas, electricity, and water.

On page 2 of this document, Martha wrote the following note:

Ich werde unterstützt von meiner bis jetzt beschäftigte Tochter und meinem beschäftigt gewesenen Sohn.

Matthias Steinke of the German Genealogy group kindly translated this for me as, “I am supported by my still working daughter and my formerly employed son.”

 

On December 6, 1940, Martha wrote this note in Wiesbaden:

Thank you to the members of the German Genealogy group who worked to decipher this difficult handwriting. This was the translation done by Matthias Steinke:

Wiesbaden, 6th December 40

Kaiser Friedrich Ring 20

I am at the 1st march 1876 in Offenbach/Main born and the wife of the at the 7th January 1921 in Cologne deceased merchant Heinrich Flörsheimer.

My daughter Gertrude Sara Flörsheimer was born at the 24th january 1904 in Gross Gerau. Her at the 12th May 1927 in Wiesbaden happened matrimony with the administrator Fr. Heitmann was at the 10th January 1930 in Wiesbaden divorced. My daughter took her maiden-name back later.

Martha Sara Flörsheimer

I am not sure who this note was written to or for what purpose, except perhaps to register their names and marital status with the officials in Wiesbaden. Or perhaps it was a follow-up to the earlier document seen above.

This typewritten letter is dated March 23, 1943, three years later:

We hereby indicate that the aforementioned Jewish woman has been restricted due to your security order from 9 14 40 to 25 8 42, because she expected the receipt of a larger payment, coming from furniture sales. On 4 9 42, the only entry received the amount of RM 594. Due to the disposition of the Governmental Practitioner Wiesbaden from 27 8 42 I 9-337 / 42, the fortune of this Jewish woman has been confiscated in favor of the Reich. We have therefore transferred the above amount to Finanzkasse Wiesbaden under file number O. 5205/494. Heil Hitler.

I am not sure what all of this means, but I got the gist of this—that all of Martha’s assets had been confiscated by the Nazis.

Aaron Knappstein located Martha’s death record:

One thing of note on these forms is that Martha is identified as a widow, not as a divorcee, even though her marriage record records the divorce:

Martha Oppenheimer marriage and divorce record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 924; Laufende Nummer: 323
Source Information
Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Marriages, 1849-1930

And interestingly she did not hide her daughter’s status as a divorcee, as seen above. So why hide hers?

Finally, Aaron also sent me a photograph of Heinrich Florsheimer’s headstone, which confirms the date of death reported by his ex-wife Martha in 1940:

These extra documents fill in some of the gaps in Martha’s life. The documents from the Nazi era are particularly poignant. Martha lost so much. Of course, losing her children was the most horrific loss, but she also lost all her property to the Nazis.

 

 

November 15, 2019

Today would have been my father’s 93rd birthday. Tomorrow it will be nine months since he died on February 16, 2019. Nine months is a long time—long enough for a human baby to gestate and be ready for life outside the womb. And yet it is just a flash in a life that lasted over 92 years.

These nine months have been the hardest of my life—dealing with not only losing my father, but watching my mother decline as well. Life without my father has been just too hard for her to bear.

So today I’d like to dedicate my blog to them both, two people whose love for each other was the key to almost all of their happiness, two beautiful young people who grew to be loving parents, adoring grandparents and great-grandparents and aunt and uncle, and loyal and caring friends to people in their community and elsewhere.

Florence and John Cohen 1951

Mystery solved! The Marriage of Marcus Morreau and Alice Weinmann

A few weeks ago I wrote about the mystery of the marriage of Marcus Morreau and Alice Weinmann—when and where had they met? When and where had they married? We may never know the answer to the first set of questions, but I now have the answer to the second set. I received two days ago a certified copy of their marriage certificate.

This is not a copy of an original certificate, but rather a transcription of the facts in the original record created and certified by the General Register Office of England on September 6, 2019. Nevertheless, it is considered proof of the facts related to the marriage.

Marcus Morreau and Alice Weinmann were married on May 24, 1899, at the British Consulate in Calais, France. Marcus was 39 and a merchant and gave his residence at the time of marriage as the Hotel Terminus in Calais. Alice was 18 and living at 23 Rue St. Denis in Calais. I was not surprised to read that Marcus was a naturalized British subject, but I was surprised to read that Alice was as well, but I then learned that because her father Joseph Weinmann was a naturalized citizen, his children were as well.

The other interesting information on this record are the names of the witnesses, Philippe Weinmann (brother of Joseph Weinmann1) and Isidor Aschaffenburg. Isidor Aschaffenburg was married to Bertha/Barbara Morreau, Marcus Morreau’s sister. They were still residents of Germany in 1899. I wrote about Bertha/Barbara and Isidor here.

And so finally we have more of the answers. But there are always more questions. How had a 39 year old man living in England met an 18 year old woman living in France? Was he in fact living in Calais for some period of time at the hotel, or was he just staying there while the wedding was taking place? Unfortunately I don’t think I will be able to find answers to all those questions.


  1. Philippe Weinmann birth record, Stadt Frankfurt, Page Number: 690;691,
    Custodian: Evangelisches Kirchenbuchamt Hannover, Frankfurt, Author: Evangelische Kirche Frankfurt (Main), Ancestry.com. Rhineland, Prussia, Lutheran Baptisms, Marriages, and Burials, 1533-1950 

The Family of Marcus Morreau and Alice Weinmann

Although I still don’t know exactly when Marcus Morreau married Alice Weinmann, I have narrowed it down to the years from 1896 to 1900 based on the information I found on FindMyPast. It also appears that they were married in Calais, France, perhaps at the British consulate there. I won’t know more until I see a copy of their marriage certificate.

But what I do know is that Marcus and Alice had three children, all born in England. First born was Rene Leopold Morreau on October 14, 1902, in Chorlton, Lancashire.1 Then came Cecil in the spring of 1905,2 and finally Madeline in the fall of 1908.3

My cousin Mark, Marcus and Alice’s great-grandson, shared some wonderful photographs of the Morreau family. Here are some photographs of the three beautiful children of Marcus and Alice Morreau when they were very young:

Cecil, Alice, and Rene Morreau, 1905, Courtesy of Mark Morreau

Rene and Cecil Morreau 1906, courtesy of Mark Morreau

Cecil Morreau 1907, courtesy of Mark Morreau

Cecil, Madeline, and Alice Morreau, c. 1909, courtesy of Mark Morreau

Marcus must have already been quite a successful shipping merchant because in 1911, he and Alice were living in Didsbury in South Manchester, England, with their three children, two nurses, and three servants—a cook, a waitress, and a maid.

Marcus Morreau and family, 1911 English census, Class: RG14; Piece: 23658
Enumeration District: 01, Ancestry.com. 1911 England Census

The children continued to grow, as seen in these photographs taken in about 1916:

Cecil and Rene Morreau, c. 1916. Courtesy of Mark Morreau

Rene, Madeline, and Cecil Morreau, c. 1916

Rene Morreau, Joseph Weinmann, Cecil Morreau,  May 1916

Then Marcus died at the age of 60 on March 6, 1920, in Conway, Wales.4 His children were still teenagers living at home, and his wife Alice was a widow at the age of forty. I could not locate an obituary, but did find this news article regarding the estate left behind by Marcus Morreau.

The Times, London, Greater London, England, 03 Nov 1920, Wed • Page 18

In today’s currency, that amount would be worth over £4,248,616.60, according to one inflation calculator, or over five million dollars in US currency.

Cecil was the first of Marcus and Alice’s children to marry. He married Cicely Josephine O’Flanagan in 1933 when he was 28 years old.5 (I can only imagine how much confusion there must have been with a Cecil married to a Cicely.) Cicely was born on November 7, 1907, in Manchester, the daughter of Martin O’Flanagan.6 Cecil and Cicely had three children between 1934 and 1938. According to his granddaughter Jo, Cecil was a graduate of Cambridge University where he played hockey and trained to be an architect.

Then tragically Cecil died from a burst appendix on March 2, 1939.7 He was only 34 years old and left behind three children under the age of ten and his widow Cicely, who was only 32. Just as Cecil had lost his father when he was still young, Cecil’s children lost their father when they were even younger children.

According to Cecil and Cicely’s granddaughter Jo, after Cecil’s death, Cicely moved with her three young children to Ireland to be with family friends; Jo said that Cicely and Cecil had planned the move in the event that there was a war, and so she followed through with that plan. Cicely remarried  in 1950,8 and she and her second husband, Henry “Harry” Collett, eventually returned to England, where she died on March 2, 1995.9

The other two children of Marcus and Alice lived longer lives than their brother Cecil. Rene married Beryl Scawen Blunt on January 21, 1937.10 Beryl was born November 27, 1911, to Arthur Scawen Blunt and Ada Hudson.11 Rene and Beryl had two children and lived into their seventies. Rene was 79 when he died on March 1, 1982, 12 and Beryl was 75 when she died on September 23, 1987.13

Madeline Morreau, the youngest child of Marcus and Alice, married Emanuel Phillip Nathan on June 19, 1941, in Kensington, England. 14 Emanuel was the son of Phillip Nathan of Johannesburg, South Africa, and as far as I can tell, it appears that Madeline and Phillip settled in Johannesburg after they married.

Marriage announcement for Madeline Morreau and Emanuel Nathan, First Letter of Surname: N
Ancestry.com. England, Andrews Newspaper Index Cards, 1790-1976This collection was indexed by Ancestry World Archives Project contributors. Original data: Andrews Collection. Institute of Heraldic and Genealogical Studies, Canterbury, Kent, England.

Alice Weinmann Morreau died in Guldford, England, in December, 1971, at the age of 91.15 Her granddaughter Annette shared with me the family story of how Alice died, as told by Alice’s companion—Alice was at the top of her stairs with Elgar’s ‘Nimrod’ playing on the radio; she commented on the beauty of the music and then collapsed.

Madeline Morreau Nathan lost her husband Emanuel two years later in 1973.16 Madeline outlived the rest of her family, surviving to age 88 when she died in South Africa in 1996.17

How fortunate I am to have made these connections with my Morreau cousins and to be able to learn more about the family and to see these wonderful photographs. Thank you, Mark, Annette, and Jo.


  1. England & Wales Deaths 1837-2007 First name(s) RENE LEOPOLD Last name MORREAU Gender Male Birth day   14 Birth month  10 Birth year 1902 Age  – Death quarter  1 Death year 1982 District Bexley County Kent Volume 11 Page 0502 Country England Record set England & Wales Deaths 1837-2007 Category  Birth, Marriage, Death & Parish Records Subcategory Civil Deaths & Burials Collections from Great Britain, England 
  2. England & Wales Births 1837-2006, First name(s) CECIL JOSEPH, Last name MORREAU, Birth year 1905, Birth quarter 2, District Chorlton, County              Lancashire, Country England, Volume 8C, Page 718, Record set England & Wales Births 1837-2006, Category Birth, Marriage, Death & Parish Records, Subcategory Civil Births, Collections from Great Britain, England 
  3. Madeleine R J Morreau, Registration Year:  1908, Registration Quarter: Oct-Nov-Dec, Registration district:  Chorlton, Inferred County: Lancashire, Volume:   8c, Page: 660, FreeBMD. England & Wales, Civil Registration Birth Index, 1837-1915 
  4. Name: Marcus Morreau, Death Date: 6 Mar 1920, Death Place: Manchester, England, Probate Date: 29 Oct 1920, Probate Registry: London, England, Ancestry.com. England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858-1995 
  5. First name(s) CECIL J, Last name MORREAU, Marriage quarter 3, Marriage year 1933, Spouse’s last name O’flanagan, District Manchester South, County Lancashire
    Country England, Volume 8D, Volume as transcribed 8D, Page number 648, Record set England & Wales Marriages 1837-2005, Category Birth, Marriage, Death & Parish Records, Subcategory Civil Marriage & Divorce, Collections from Great Britain, England 
  6. Cicely Josephine Collett, Death Age: 87, Birth Date: 7 Nov 1907, Registration Date: Apr 1995, Registration district: Ipswich, Inferred County: Suffolk, Register Number: A14B, District and Subdistrict: 7471A, Entry Number: 257, General Register Office; United Kingdom, Ancestry.com. England & Wales, Civil Registration Death Index, 1916-2007 
  7. Name: Cecil Joseph Morreau, Death Date: 2 Mar 1939, Death Place: Guildford, Surrey, England, Probate Date: 7 Jun 1939, Probate Registry: London, England, Ancestry.com. England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858-1995 
  8.  Name: Cicely J Morreau, Registration Date: Oct 1950,Registration Quarter: Oct-Nov-Dec, Registration district: Marylebone, Inferred County: Middlesex, Spouse: Henry B Collett, Volume Number: 5d, Page Number: 605, General Register Office; United Kingdom; Volume: 5d; Page: 605, Ancestry.com. England & Wales, Civil Registration Marriage Index, 1916-2005 
  9.  Name: Cicely Josephine Collett, Death Age: 87, Birth Date: 7 Nov 1907, Registration Date: Apr 1995, Registration district: Ipswich, Inferred County: Suffolk
    Register Number: A14B, District and Subdistrict: 7471A, Entry Number: 257,
    General Register Office; United Kingdom, Ancestry.com. England & Wales, Civil Registration Death Index, 1916-2007 
  10.  Name: Rene L Morreau, Registration Date: Jan 1937, Registration Quarter: Jan-Feb-Mar, Registration district: Westminster, Inferred County: Middlesex, Spouse: Beryl S Blunt, Volume Number: 1a, Page Number: 870, General Register Office; United Kingdom; Volume: 1a; Page: 870, Ancestry.com. England & Wales, Civil Registration Marriage Index, 1916-2005 
  11. First name(s) BERYL S Last name BLUNT Birth year 1911 Birth quarter 4 Registration month – Mother’s maiden name Hudson District Canterbury County Kent Country England Volume 2A Page 1734 Record set England & Wales Births 1837-2006 Category Birth, Marriage, Death & Parish Records Subcategory Civil Births Collections from Great Britain, England 
  12.  Rene Leopold Morreau, Death Age: 79, Birth Date: 14 Oct 1902, Registration Date: Jan 1982, Registration Quarter: Jan-Feb-Mar, Registration district: Bexley
    Inferred County: Greater London, Volume: 11, Page: 0502, General Register Office; United Kingdom; Volume: 11; Page: 0502, Ancestry.com. England & Wales, Civil Registration Death Index, 1916-2007 
  13. Name: Beryl Scawen Morreau, Death Age: 75, Birth Date: 27 Nov 1911
    Registration Date: Sep 1987, Registration district: Lambeth, Inferred County: Greater London, Volume: 14, Page: 317, General Register Office; United Kingdom; Volume: 14; Page: 317, Ancestry.com. England & Wales, Civil Registration Death Index, 1916-2007 
  14.  Name: Madeleine R J Morreau, Registration Date: Apr 1941, Registration Quarter: Apr-May-Jun, Registration district: Kensington, Inferred County: London
    Spouse: Emanuel P Nathan, Volume Number: 1a, Page Number: 430, General Register Office; United Kingdom; Volume: 1a; Page: 430, Ancestry.com. England & Wales, Civil Registration Marriage Index, 1916-2005 
  15. Alice Frederique Morreau, Death Age: 91, Birth Date: 15 Jun 1880, Registration Quarter: Oct-Nov-Dec, Registration district: Surrey South Western Inferred County: Surrey, Volume: 5g, Page: 1177. General Register Office; United Kingdom; Volume: 5g; Page: 1177, Ancestry.com. England & Wales, Civil Registration Death Index, 1916-2007 
  16. Emanuel Philip Nathan, Death Year: 1973, Death Country: South Africa
    Title: Transvaal Estates Death Index (Master of the Supreme Court, Pretoria)
    Source: National Archives, Pretoria, Reference Number: 11990/73, Ancestry.com. Transvaal Province, South Africa, Estates Death Notice Index, 1855-1976 
  17. Source: Mark Morreau, Madeline’s great-nephew. 

A Brickwall: When and Where did Alice Weinmann Marry Marcus Morreau?

As seen in my prior post, my cousin Marcus Morreau left his home in Worrstadt, Germany, as a young man and was living and working as a merchant in Withington, England by 1881, as seen on the 1881 census.

Marcus Morreau, 1881 England census, Class: RG11; Piece: 3892; Folio: 79; Page: 37; GSU roll: 1341930, Enumeration District: 12a, Ancestry.com and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 1881 England Census

By 1901, he was a shipping merchant and married and living with his wife Alice in Didsbury, England, as seen on the 1901 English census:

Marcus and Alice Morreau, “England and Wales Census, 1901,” database, FamilySearch(https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:X9GW-G8T : 21 May 2019), Marcus Morreau, Didsbury, Lancashire, England, United Kingdom; from “1901 England, Scotland and Wales census,” database and images, findmypast(http://www.findmypast.com : n.d.); citing Didsbury subdistrict, PRO RG 13, The National Archives, Kew, Surrey.

Thus, sometime between 1881 and 1901, Marcus married  a woman named Alice. I was curious about their marriage, especially since Alice was 21 years younger than Marcus and French-born, as indicated on the census record.  Where did they meet? When and where did they marry?

I knew from my cousin Mark, the great-grandson of Marcus and Alice, that Alice was the child of Joseph Weinmann and Helene Rothschild, both of whom were German-born, but were living in Calais, France, when Alice was born there on June 15, 1880. Sherri of the Tracing the Tribe group on Facebook generously offered to help me locate Alice’s birth record from Calais:

Alice Weinmann, birth record, Calais, France, located on the online archives for Calais at http://archivesenligne.pasdecalais.fr/cg62v2/registre.php

The records from Calais also show that Joseph and Helen Weinmann’s youngest child, Jacques, was born in 1895, in Calais,1 so the Weinmanns were living in Calais from at least 1880  when Alice, their first-born child, was born until at least 1895 when Jacques was born.

Mark shared these two wonderful photographs of his great-grandmother Alice as a young girl and as a young woman:

Alice Weinmann with her younger sister Estelle, 1890. Courtesy of Mark Morreau

Alice Weinmann, 1898. Courtesy of Mark Morreau

So how did Marcus, a German immigrant living in England since at least 1881, meet a much younger woman who was born in France in 1880 and living in France until at least 1895?

One theory was that Marcus was introduced to Alice through his work with Edward Wihl. Mark found a directory for Manchester in the 1880s showing that Marcus was working for Edward Wihl & Company, and I found one from 1895 showing that he was still working for Edward Wihl & Company.

Manchester Directory, early 1880s, courtesy of Mark Morreau

1895 Slater’s Manchester & Salford Directory (Pt 1); Publisher: Slater’s Directory Ltd (Manchester) and Kelly & Co. (London), Ancestry.com. UK, City and County Directories, 1766 – 1946

Alice’s sister Estelle was married to Edward Wihl’s nephew Joseph Wihl,2 and we postulated that Estelle Weinmann and Joseph Wihl introduced Alice and Marcus. But that theory did not hold up because Estelle married Joseph Wihl in 1906, at least five years after Alice and Marcus were married.  It would seem more likely that Alice introduced Estelle to Joseph Wihl than Estelle introducing Alice to Marcus.

Mark was quite certain that Alice and Marcus had married in Calais, but despite help from numerous members of the French SIG on JewishGen and from Sherri on Facebook, I could not locate a marriage record for Marcus and Alice in Calais. One of the members of the French SIG group also looked at Alice’s birth record and opined that if in fact Alice had later married in Calais, there would have been a notation on her birth record to that effect.  There was, in fact, no such notation.

Then I wondered if they had married in England, not France. What if the Weinmanns had left Calais after Jacques was born in 1895 and moved to Manchester, facilitating the meeting of Alice and Marcus and their marriage in England?

So I searched  to see if the Weinmanns had moved to England before Alice and Marcus married, and I learned that Alice’s father Joseph Weinmann had lived in England, but before Alice’s birth in 1880.

Records show that in 1870, Joseph Weinmann became a naturalized citizen of the United Kingdom, then residing in Ireland, meaning that he had lived in the UK for at least five of the preceding eight years. In 1871, Joseph Weinmann, born in Frankfurt, Germany, was working as a commercial lace clerk and living in Nottingham, England.3

Joseph Weinmann UK naturalization, 1870, The National Archives; Kew, Surrey, England; Duplicate Certificates of Naturalisation, Declarations of British Nationality, and Declarations of Alienage; Class: HO 334; Piece: 1, Piece 001: Certificate Numbers A1 – A496
Ancestry.com. UK, Naturalisation Certificates and Declarations, 1870-1916

This photograph is labeled by the family as “Joseph Weinmann, Nottingham, c.1868, age 20.”

Joseph Weinmann, c. 1868, Nottingham, England. Courtesy of Mark Morreau

When I saw that, I recalled something else that Mark had mentioned: that both the Wihl family and Joseph Weinmann were somehow connected to the lace trade in Nottingham. Mark wondered whether Marcus also had at some point been in Nottingham. All of that made some sense as a theory—that Marcus met Joseph Weinman in the 1870s in Nottingham before Joseph moved to Calais and Marcus moved to Manchester.

But I had and have no proof. In fact, I have no English records for Joseph Weinmann after the 1871 England Census until a 1909 directory showing him living in Manchester and working for Morreau, Spiegelberg & Company.4

When I first saw the two photographs below, I thought these might be wedding portraits. They were both taken in Manchester, and the one of Alice is dated 1901. But since they were taken by different photographers in Manchester, they were probably not wedding portraits.

Alice Weinmann Morreau, 1901, Manchester. Courtesy of Mark Morreau

Marcus Morreau, undated, Manchester. Courtesy of Mark Morreau

I was about to give up on ever finding a marriage record for Marcus and Alice when I decided to search FindMyPast, the genealogy website that is best for research in Great Britain. There were several records for Marcus Morreau on the site, but the one that most interested me was from a database called “British Armed Forces and Overseas Banns and Marriages.” The entry for Marcus was described as “Marcus Morreau 1896-1900 Calais France MCON Gro Consular Marriages (1849-1965)(emphasis added).”  But I could not see the actual document or the transcription without subscribing to FindMyPast.

I debated whether or not to spend the money (about $15) for a one month subscription. Finally my curiosity got the better of me, so I took out my credit card and subscribed. I was excited to click on the icon to see the record, but this is all it showed:

Marcus Morreau in marriage register

The transcription didn’t help much either. It said:

Gro Consular Marriages (1849-1965)
First name(s) Marcus
Last name Morreau
Sex Male
Marriage year 1896-1900

 

MarriageFinder ™

Marcus Morreau married one of these people

Alice Frederique Weinmann, Agnes Mary Matthews

Marriage place Calais
Place type Place
Country France
Type Consular/Overseas
Source Gro Consular Marriages (1849-1965)
Records year range 1896-1900
Archive reference MCON
Volume 10
Page 409
Line number 20
Archive
General Register Office
Record set British Armed Forces And Overseas Banns And Marriages
Category Birth, Marriage & Death (Parish Registers)
Subcategory Civil Marriage & Divorce
Collections from Great Britain, UK None

There was no wedding date date provided, just the range of 1896-1900. But it certainly appears that Marcus and Alice were indeed married in Calais as Mark had believed. But when? And how did they meet if they were living in different countries and 21 years apart in age?

It seems more and more likely that somehow there was a prior connection between Marcus and his father-in-law-to-be, Joseph Weinmann, and perhaps an ongoing business connection.

The next step is to try and get the actual marriage record. I’ve sent away to the GRO in England with the hope that they will find it and that it will at least provide a wedding date. Now I wait.

UPDATE: Mystery solved! The GRO sent the record, and the answers are here.


  1. Jacques Weinmann birth record, found at http://archivesenligne.pasdecalais.fr/cg62v2/registre.php 
  2. Marriage of Joseph Wihl and Estelle Weinmann,Registration Year: 1906
    Registration Quarter: Jul-Aug-Sep, Registration district: Prestwich  Inferred County: Lancashire, Volume: 8d, Page: 818, Records on Page: FreeBMD. England & Wales, Civil Registration Marriage Index, 1837-1915 
  3. Joseph Weinmann, 1871 England Census, The National Archives; Kew, London, England; 1871 England Census; Class: RG10; Piece: 3530; Folio: 28; Page: 13; GSU roll: 839753, Enumeration District: 2, Ancestry.com. 1871 England Census 
  4. 1909 Slater’s Manchester, Salford & Suburban Directory (Pt 2); Publisher: Slater’s Directory Ltd (Manchester) and Kelly’s Directories Ltd (London), Ancestry.com. UK, City and County Directories, 1766 – 1946